Cable Internet Service Providers in Toronto

Friday, April 11, 2014 @ 9:59 pm

I am happily typing out this blog post while connected to my new Internet service provider (ISP), Start Communications, transferring from Rogers. This post will detail my rationale behind my choice, featuring quite a bit of number crunching.

 The Spreadsheet

I initially looked into TekSavvy as an alternative, showing how effective their PR efforts are. But then a good friend told me about Start Communications. So I went on a quest to find other reputable cable ISPs. For this I used DSLReports.com.

I identified 3 non-Rogers ISPs on DSLReports with an overall rating of 70% or higher:

  1. TekSavvy
  2. Start Communications
  3. VMedia

I then looked at their pricing: the monthly fee, the modem rental/purchase fees, any shipping fees and activation fees:

ISP Comparison Sheet
(click to enlarge)

You will observe that TekSavvy and Start are very similar in terms of both pricing and features, with differences only in the overage charge maximum, as well as activation fee. With Start, the $50 activation fee is waived if you are transferring from an existing cable service.

Comparing them against Rogers, all would produce savings (column I), and all of the selected ones have a higher monthly bandwidth cap.

TekSavvy and Start also offer unmetered usage between 2am – 8am, and unlimited uploading 24/7 on all plans.

Some differences between the two: TekSavvy is ranked Silver, and Start is ranked Gold on DSLReports. With Start, you are able to pay an extra $10 per month to get unlimited downloading.

How about VMedia? Well, their reviews are mixed. They may be worth looking into if you are looking for something unlimited. However, with unlimited service, saturation and overloaded nodes become a possible issue.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff. Let’s see how much we would be saving monthly:

ISP Payback Period
(click to enlarge)

Looking at TekSavvy 25 and Start Standard, we’d break even in 6 months and 4 months, respectively. Start would take only 4 months because of the waived $50 activation fee.

I decided to go with Start Standard, presuming that Rogers was throttling my Internet and that the 25 Mbps download speed with Start (unthrottled) would be comparable to Rogers’ download speed.

Dealing with Rogers

To cancel/transfer your Internet, you must give Rogers 30-days notice.

The activation date with Start can only be on or after your disconnection date with Rogers.

The call with Rogers was longer than needed, with them trying to offer various retention plans (the one they offered was just $4 less than the current monthly fee, so no deal).

My advice: just stick to your guns, have the above numbers ready ($4 in savings is less than the $32 or so, going from Rogers Extreme to Start Standard), and be firm yet cordial. Get the representative’s name, jot down the phone call time, and at the end, ask them for the confirmation number. They should also be emailing you a confirmation, but get it just in case.

Important: transferring from Rogers means your @rogers.com email address(es) will stop working. Please use the 30-day period to migrate over to another email provider, notify your address book of your new email address, and backing up your email messages.

Signing up with Start

Armed with your disconnection date, you are now ready to sign up with Start.

Go to www.start.ca, enter your postal code (to see what services are available in your area), then go to their sign-up form and enter your details, the Rogers disconnection date, whether or not you’d like to rent or purchase the modem. Continue onto the next page.

On the next page, you’ll be asked to enter more information, such as your phone number, any special requests, your payment information, and how you heard about Start.

If you’d like to appreciate my blog post, feel free to contact me and ask me for my Start customer ID to enter under the “How did you hear about us?” question before you register! (so that I get referral credit ;))

Why Start?

There are a couple of reasons:

  • I would breakeven within 4 months, from paying $45.14 per month (plus a one-time fee of  $124.24 which includes the modem) instead of $76.83 per month (with Rogers Extreme) (all totals after tax)
  • The $50 activation fee is waived as I already had an active Internet connection
  • Their ranking Gold, over TekSavvy’s Silver, on DSLReports. Start has a 97% overall rating on DSLReports while TekSavvy has an 80% rating.
  • Their referral system: to provide my friend a nice $25 credit on his next month’s bill

The Results

Rogers decided to cut my Internet a day before the transfer date. As soon as I found out it was cut, I emailed Start at 8am to ask them to try to contact Rogers to initiate the transfer. Start literally replied within 10 minutes saying they’ll contact Rogers and inquire.

Rogers replied with: “We can’t reschedule it as the transfer date booked is based on the service disconnection date of the previous account.” #rogerslogic

So after living in the 1990s again last night with no Internet, when I got home from work today, Start actually called and left a message on my answering machine saying that my service has transferred and that it appears my service wasn’t working yet (as I hadn’t plugged in the modem yet), and that they would follow up to make sure everything was working. You’d never get this degree of customer service with Rogers.

I went with Start’s Standard Cable Internet plan, featuring 25 Mbps download / 2 Mbps upload, with a monthly bandwidth cap of 150 GB.

Just an hour ago I powercycled my modem and router, got up and running and did a speed test at www.speedtest.net:

Start Standard - Speedtest

Referral

If you happen to be considering transferring from your ISP (be it Rogers or Bell), and found this post helpful, feel free to contact me and ask me for my Start customer ID to enter under the “How did you hear about us?” question before you register! I’d really appreciate it 🙂